First T-54A trainer jet arrives at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi

by Vern Evans

The inaugural T-54A multi-engine training system aircraft arrived at Training Air Wing 4 at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, last week — a move that comes as the Navy phases out the T-44C Pegasus aircraft the service commissioned in 1977.

The Navy will use the T-54A to train aviators flying the P-8A Poseidon, E-2D Hawkeye and C-130 Hercules, and it features a pressurized aircraft cockpit with side-by-side seating as well as a jump seat.

“We produce the best multi-engine pilots in the world,” Capt. Michael Albus, Training Air Wing 4 commander, said in a statement. “The T-54A will be the training aircraft to carry that legacy into the future. With its ProLine Fusion avionics suite, combined with increased range, speed, and altitude, the T-54A will ensure that our aviators are well-prepared to operate complex fleet aircraft, and are ready for tomorrow’s challenges in a multi-domain environment.”

Albus is overseeing the integration of the aircraft into Training Squadrons 31 and 35, as the Navy moves to acquire 64 T-54 aircraft the service will continue to receive through 2026.

In addition to the new technology installed on the aircraft, the trainer jet is also painted gray — a departure from the orange and white paint scheme the Navy has employed for 70 years on trainer jets.

The gray color aims to “reconnect” students and instructors with the Fleet and mimics the color scheme of the P-8A Poseidon and E-2D Hawkeye, the Navy said.

The aircraft is slated to provide Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and select U.S. allies training capabilities for multi-engine and advanced tilt-rotor aircraft through 2055, the Navy said.

“This aircraft brings modernized training to student naval aviators and prepares them for the advanced aircraft they will fly in the fleet,” program manager Capt. Duane Whitmer said in a statement. “Our team is committed to delivering integrated air warfare capabilities to enable the fleet to compete, deter and win — tonight, tomorrow and in the future.”

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